The fight to monitor the Harris County elections
Harris County and Houston city leaders have requested federal monitors to be sent to the county in response to Texas agencies saying they will send a team to monitor the election.
Driving the news: The Texas Secretary of State's and the Texas Attorney General's offices will send inspectors, election security trainers and legal advisers to observe and help administer the Nov. 8 election in the state's largest metropolitan area.
Why it matters: Dispatching people to monitor local elections adds to the narrative that there's voter fraud in Harris County, despite the lack of evidence, Houston Public Media reports.
- The state agencies' action is "unprecedented" and a conflict of interest, said James Slattery, senior staff attorney for the Texas Civil Rights Project, a nonprofit that advocates for voting rights.
- In a letter submitted just days before the start of early voting, the Texas agencies cited claims of unexplained irregularities in vote tabulation and chain-of-custody procedures in the 2020 election as the reason for dispatching administrators.
What they're saying: "That is an obviously very dangerous development in the midterm election here in Texas," Slattery told HPM. "There is no obvious purpose to this letter other than a preemptive strike by state officials to discredit publicly the results of the 2022 election here in Texas, even before a single person has gone to the polls."
- "This 'audit' started with former President Donald Trump calling on Gov. Abbott to audit the 2020 election, and now it has led to the state sending a 'task force' and 'inspectors' to oversee our elections," said Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee in a statement. "We're going to grant them the access the law requires, but we know state leaders in Austin cannot be trusted to be an honest broker in our elections."
State of play: Harris County has turned Democratic in recent elections, while the state has remained Republican.
- But this election could turn the tables and Republicans could win the seats needed to control the Harris County Commissioners Court.
What's next: Early voting in Harris County begins Monday at 99 polling places.
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